Land & Sky Byway to hold card and game night fundraiser

Highway 27 in northern Cheyenne County
A traveler heads west on Highway 27 in northern Cheyenne County.

Land and Sky Scenic Byway to hold its first annual fundraiser

Land and Sky Scenic Byway will hold a Game and Card Night at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at Goodland Elks Lodge No. 1528, 1523 Arcade. The event will feature card and other games, chili feed, cash bar, live and silent auctions, disc jockey and dancing. Donation boxes will be available at the chili feed. Donations will also be accepted for the live and silent auctions.

Funds raised will support byway development, including signage, interpretation and other long term projects. Call Cheyenne County Development Corporation, 785-332-3508; Sherman County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 785-890-3515; or Wallace County Visitors Bureau, 785-821-1861; for information or to donate.

bridge over the North Fork of the Smoky Hill River
A truck crosses the North Fork of the Smoky Hill River in southern Sherman County.

What is a byway?

Byways are roads that tell a story. Land and Sky Scenic Byway’s designation means that the State of Kansas believes we have an interesting story to tell. We are a gateway to a unique adventure, a path to understand Northwest Kansas and rural America better. We want visitors to explore and experience what makes life on the High Plains special.

The State of Kansas designated Land and Sky Scenic Byway May 25, 2016. The byway runs 88 miles along Highway 27 from the Nebraska-Kansas line to Sharon Springs. The byway is the nation’s first byway with an agriculture theme. We hope to teach people that their food comes from the hard work of farmers, that it does not magically appear on store shelves.

What does the byway committee do?

Kansas Tourism Office works hard to promote all the state’s 12 byways. The local byway committee has also worked hard to promote Land and Sky.

The byway was designated in time for inclusion in the state’s byways guide, which dropped in time for the state fair in September. The state helps promote the byway in many ways, but we can do much more. Byway communities are invited to work in Kansas Tourism’s booth at the state fair. The byway published a rack card in time for the state fair.

Byway representatives used the rack card in booths at trade shows in Denver, Kansas City and Omaha in 2017’s first quarter.

The byway committee works to meet its goals

The byway committee set two goals for 2017: 1) publishing a byway brochure; 2) placing interpretive signage along the byway. Interpretive signage tells our story.

Cover of Land and Sky Scenic Byway’s brochure. Read the brochure’s online version.

The byway has finished its first goal. Cheyenne County Development Corporation received a grant to help fund the brochure. The brochure was printed in time for byway representatives to take it to the Kansas Media Event at Meredith Corporation headquarters, Des Moines, Iowa, in early April. Meredith representatives from Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Living, Traditional Home, Diabetic Living, Better Homes & Gardens Quilting and Crafts Group, Meredith Travel Marketing, Meredith Brand Licensing, Meredith Agrimedia and Meredith Test Kitchen visited the byway booth. Several Meredith publications staff have toured the byway or plan to do so.

Byway representatives will again man Kansas Tourism’s booth at the state fair.

The byway’s impact is being felt

We may already be seeing the byway’s impact in traffic counts. Kansas Department of Transportation counts traffic every July and releases the figures in August. This year’s traffic counts exceed last year at all 18 counting locations along the byway.

St. Francis Motorcycle Museum
People from all 50 states and several foreign countries have visited the St. Francis Motorcycle Museum.

Attendance at local museums is up. People stop by the Giant van Gogh Painting at all hours of the day and well into the night.

Sherman County wheat
This stand of Sherman County wheat is nearly ripe. Wheat will become flour for breads, or many other items. Interpretive signage will enable the byway to explain agriculture’s importance.

The byway seeks tools to help visitors

But when visitors arrive, we have few tools to explain what they are seeing. That’s where interpretive signage comes in.

The local byway committee is working with Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to place a kiosk and some interpretive signage along the byway. The committee hopes to announce the locations soon. Funding came from a federal grant KDWPT received. While the final project value has yet to be determined, it will be in the tens of thousands.

Land and Sky Scenic Byway finished its designation process just in time to be included in the grant funds. But additional interpretive signage depends on local funding.

The General Store
The General Store in Sharon Springs is a piece of Americana. Buy gifts, antiques and bulk items.

Please help the byway tell our communities’ stories

Please help Land and Sky Scenic Byway Committee tell our communities’ stories. Come to the fundraiser, have a great time and bring people who will leave their money in Cheyenne, Sherman and Wallace counties. Investing in the byway is investing in our communities’ future.



Kansas Guidebook 2 book signings slated

Kansas Guidebook for Explorers 2 book signing

Learn where and how to explore Kansas at book signings in St. Francis, Wallace and Goodland.

Marci Penner
Marci Penner talks about Kansas at Kansas Sampler Festival in Winfield this May.

Book signings for Kansas Guidebook for Explorers 2 to be held in byway communities

“If you think Kansas is boring, you’re doing it wrong.”
— Kansas Explorers Club member

Exploring Kansas is an adventure like no other. Find out where and how to explore the state in Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers. The authors, Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe, will be in Land and Sky Scenic Byway communities in June and July for book signings.

They’ll be in St. Francis for a program and book signing at Cheyenne County History Museum at 7 p.m. CDT June 26 and will sign books at Fresh Seven Coffee, 8:30-10:30 a.m. CDT June 27.

They’ll be in a booth at Fort Wallace Museum, Wallace, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. MDT July 8.

Enjoy meeting the authors at a program and book signing at Goodland’s High Plains Museum 7 p.m. MDT July 27.

Join Penner and Rowe as they share pictures and tell stories about fascinating things to see and do around the state this summer — and all year long.

WenDee Rowe
WenDee Rowe tries out a chair on the authors’ Explorer Research Voyage.

About the book

The 480-page book costs $30 and will be available at the signings. The book is full of Kansas adventures, including some a traveler would be hard pressed to find without guidance. Buy one for yourself and some for family and friends. They’ll make great gifts.

Explorer Research Voyage logo
Rowe (right) and Penner spent four years exploring Kansas on their research voyage.

The authors have spent four years on their Explorer Research Voyage. They explored all 626 incorporated cities in Kansas, plus some unincorporated communities. Their goal is to encourage people to explore the state. And they deliver plenty of encouragement.

As an example, Penner said Land and Sky Scenic Byway “offers plenty to see and do on this route between the land and the sky.” The byway has “many unexpected gems.” She listed Ernie Poe’s barbed wire buffalo at Fort Wallace Museum, the organ museum in Sharon Springs, the house post office in Edson, America’s First Patented Helicopter and the Giant van Gogh Painting in Goodland, the giant green grasshopper north of Goodland, Big Ed’s Steakhouse in Bird City, the Jack Weinstein story told at the Cheyenne County Museum and the motorcycle museum, both in St. Francis.

Readers will be amazed at what Kansas has to offer. Meticulously researched, the book offers low-water bridges, rocks and bowling balls on fence posts, touching memorials, beautiful ruins and fun food options everywhere in Kansas.

Book signings will be held in St. Francis June 26 and 27

St. Francis will host the first book signings along the byway.

The authors’ first stop will be June 26 at the Cheyenne County Museum, West Highway 36, St. Francis, 7 p.m. CDT. Penner and Rowe will take the audience on a picture journey throughout the state, sharing road trip ideas and telling stories about their voyage across Kansas.

The next day, June 27, come to Fresh Seven Coffee, 312 W. Washington St., St. Francis, from 8:30-10:30 a.m. CDT. Buy a book and enjoy a cup of coffee with the authors. Have them sign your book. Fresh Seven is featured on the guidebook’s back cover.

“The Kansas Guidebook 2 is exceptionally well done. When you read about the places, you just want to go there,” Helen Dobbs, Director of the Cheyenne County Development Corporation.

Wallace book signing is July 8

Wallace is the authors’ next destination. They will sign books from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. MDT July 8 at the Fort Wallace Museum’s 1867 Fort Wallace & Western Kansas Exposition. The museum’s address is 2655 U.S. Highway 40, Wallace.

High Plains Museum in Goodland hosts book signing July 27

They’ll be in Goodland July 27 for a 7 p.m. MDT signing at High Plains Museum, 1717 Cherry. Join Penner and Rowe for a preview of their Explorer Research Voyage. Buy a book – or two, three or four – and they’ll sign them for you.

“We’ve looked forward to this book for four years,” Sherman County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Donna Price said. “Now it’s here. It’s crammed with the joys of exploring Kansas. If you love this state, read and use this book. If you don’t know what Kansas has to offer, there’s no better place to start.”

If you need to buy more copies later, High Plains Museum will be selling the books in their gift shop.

“I’m looking forward to reading the book, learning more about Kansas and to hearing stories about the Explorer Research Voyage,” museum Director Sami Philbrick said. “We’re excited to have Marci and WenDee here and to sell their book.”

About the authors

Penner is the Executive Director of Kansas Sampler Foundation. Rowe is the foundation’s Assistant Director. The foundation’s mission is to help preserve and sustain rural culture. The foundation’s programs include Kansas Explorers Club, the WeKan! Network, the Big Kansas Road Trip, Get Rural Kansas, Voluncheering and many others.